Meet our former Festival Directing Observers! Want to get in touch with one of them? You can either check out their website or email our New Works Associate, Skye Cone Ivey, for more information.




 Des’ree Brown (she/her) (Blackout) is a director, producer, theatre journalist, and artistic administrator from ancestral Piscataway land, colonially known as southern Maryland. She was recently one of the artistic fellows at Berkeley Rep, where she assistant directed the new musical, Goddess. She has directed and assisted new works in institutions across DMV and NYC including The Kennedy Center, Washington National Opera, The 24-Hour Plays, Rorschach Theatre, We Happy Few, and Two Strikes Theatre Collective. She has worked in a variety of administrative and artistic capacities at Baltimore Center Stage, Shakespeare Theatre Company and Round House Theatre. She is a current member of Jose Solís’s BIPOC Critics Lab, Black Theatre Coalition, and a recipient of the KCACTF SDC Fellowship. She is thrilled to be a part of the NAMT Family.


Mayah “My” Lourdes Burke (she/her) (Get Out Alive) is a director, playwright, actor, vocalist, poet and photographer from NYC. She graduated with her BS in Drama in 2021 from the CUNY College of Staten Island. Her directing credits include Good Grief: A Best Friend Play (2022, Ghostlight Players Productions) by Ngozi Anyanwu, We are Proud to Present… (2021, Staten Island Shakespeare Co) by Jackie Sibblies Drury, and Funnyhouse of a Negro (2021, College of Staten Island) by Adrienne Kennedy, as well as performed and directed some scenes in the 2021 Women’s Playwrights Collective’s Not Forgotten Play Festival. Her original play, 4SZNS, debuted at Brooklyn Music School in 2022 in the Short Play Fest curated by The Makers Ensemble. She is also a Touring Company Member with IlluminArt Productions and an Artistic Coach with MUJER. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here, and thanks to all those who have helped her along the way.

Rohan Dhupar (he/him) (The Pelican) is a queer Indo-Canadian theatre and dance artist currently based in London, with practices spanning choreography, directing, and producing. He studied musical theatre at Sheridan College, arts management at Queen’s University, and is currently working towards his MFA in transdisciplinary creative practice at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Recent credits include choreographing the 2021 Toronto Fringe hit Venus & Adonis (Theatre Oculus), and assistant directing the workshop for the new play White Muscle Daddy (Buddies in Bad Times). He received the Alan Lund Scholarship for choreography (Charlottetown Festival) and the MARTY Award for Emerging Dance Artist (Mississauga Arts Council). Rohan is also an Associate Artist with contemporary dance-theatre company Frog in Hand. His artistic practice encourages civic engagement, anti-oppressive practices, and decentralizing power in creative and institutional processes. He holds a passion for new musical theatre work and is thrilled to be a part of the NAMT community.

Samantha Estrella (she/hers) (Baked! The Musical) is an Afro-Latina theatre practitioner who is grateful to NAMT for this opportunity and space! Prior collaborations that have brought her joy and growth include: Latiné Musical Theatre Lab’s 4xlatiné (Director/Producer), A Night of Black Excellence (Producing assistant to Afton Battle at Fort Worth Opera), Two Mile Hollow (Director/Producer), Godspell (Assistant Director to Telly Leung), A Beautiful Country (Associate Director to Matthew Ozawa) and In The Heights (Director’s Assistant to Ricky Nahas and Lea Roy at Maltz Jupiter Theatre). She credits her Caribbean roots for her constant search for laughter, poetry and musicality in her every day. Samantha received her BFA degree from the University of Michigan in Theatre Performance: Directing, alongside studies in theatre producing. All her love goes to her mentors, friends and family for their expansive support. As always, thinking of you Grace.


Hayley Goldenberg (she/her) (Perpetual Sunshine & the Ghost Girls) is a NYC-based, Toronto raised, Vancouver-trained and Santa Barbara-born queer feminist theatre creator. She wears many hats as a creative but her primary focus is on directing and writing musicals. She has worked on the directing team for several shows including 9 to 5, Sense & Sensibility, Mary Poppins JR, The Addams Family, Aladdin JR, Into the Woods JR, To Family!, Date Night at the Applebee’s, Fresh Out of the Oven at Mo’s, Just Running Late and many others. She currently serves as the director on Plane Girl and Jane the Queen, two new musicals in development through the Musical Theatre Writers Collective. As a songwriter, her work has been presented on stages across Canada and the United States including The Green Room 42, Laurie Beechman Theatre and the Penny Zlotnik Studio Theatre. She has had her work produced by several organizations including New Music Theatre Intensives, Cabaret on the Couch, Capilano University and the Musical Theatre Writers Collective. Along with her collaborators, she was a semi-finalist for the Bechdel Project: Room of One’s Own Residency with her new musical Faye: A Musical Inspired By The Life And Photographs of Faye Lazebnik Schulman. Along with her other creative work, Hayley is also the co-founder of Women & Theatre, a project dedicated to exploring the experiences of women and non-binary people in the theatre industry – learn more at



Emma Y. Lai (she/her) (The Female Pope) is a freelance director, producer, and writer based in Minneapolis, MN and NYC. She is passionate about directing new plays and musicals and is interested in large scale world building in theatre, healing plays, and stories about family. Favorite directing and assisting credits include the world premiere audio drama, Somewhere Over the Pacific (Picnic Basket Theatre), Vietgone (dir. Mina Morita/Guthrie Theatre), The Hombres (dir. Annie Tippe/Two River Theater), Heaven (dir. Joe Chvala/Flying Foot Forum), and Radio Golf (dir. Brandon J. Dirden/Two River Theater). Upcoming projects include assistant directing Your Own Personal Exegesis (dir. Annie Tippe/LCT3), COWBOY BOB (dir. Annie Tippe/Alley Theatre) and directing a workshop of The Songs of Bilitis by Rachel Anne Brees. Emma is super grateful for this opportunity at NAMT and to learn from all of these amazing artists! 




Irvin Mason Jr. (he/him) (Pup! A Chew Story!) is a director, actor and spoken word artist born and raised in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Some of his favorite directing credits include Ain’t Misbehavin and Pipeline with Gallery Players, Once on this Island with the Color Box Production Company and Camp Song, a new musical developed for UCLA’s main stage season. He received his degree in theater with an emphasis in directing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. The best role Irvin has played is being a current teacher at Democracy Prep Endurance High School in Harlem.





 Mary Tomei (she/her) (King of Pangaea) is a director, arts administrator and collaborative artist based in New York. Mary received her B.A. in Theatre from Northwestern University, where she was the Artistic Director of Purple Crayon Players, a nationally acclaimed Theatre for Young Audiences organization. She is interested in creating accessible theatre that challenges all audiences, primarily through new work and musical storytelling. She is dedicated to empowering her collaborators and fostering artistic community that invites people to show up with the fullness of their identity. Favorite directing and assisting credits include Pippin, James and the Giant Peach, Baked! The Musical and Sweeney Todd. Mary is grateful to NAMT for this opportunity, and hopes to continue making theatre that engages and inspires its audience.




Shira Helena Gitlin (Fanny & Stella) (they/them) is a director, dramaturg, gender consultant, and musical theatre enthusiast. Select directing credits include: for the fish (Moonbox Productions), Organic (National Women’s Theatre Festival), 7 Rooms: The Masque of the Red Death (Flat Earth Theatre), Tales from Camp Strangewood: Mr. Champagne (Sparkhaven Theatre), Precious Stuff, Where the Fireworks Come From, Deep Blue (Boston Theatre Marathon), Shrek: The Musical (Mohawk Trail Regional School), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Hampshire College). As a gender consultant, Shira has held Transgender Identity workshops for Dramatists Guild, Directors Lab North, individual theatre makers, and various theatres across the United States. They are also a member of StageSource’s Gender Explosion Initiative. Shira is a graduate of the Arden Professional Apprentice Class 26, was an Artistic Fellow at SpeakEasy Stage Company, and is an alumni of Directors Lab North in Toronto, Canada. They have a BA from Hampshire College in directing with an emphasis on musical theatre studies.



Annabel Heacock (TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix) (she/they) is a director, producer, devisor, puppet-maker and arts administrator. At present, Annabel is based in Brooklyn, New York and works at Roundabout Theatre Company as the Artistic Assistant. As a director, they enjoy working on new plays and devised works that tackle otherness and the limits of morality. After graduating from Northwestern University with degrees in Theatre and Sociology, Annabel completed Studio Theatre’s directing apprenticeship in Washington, D.C. Select Northwestern directing credits include an immersive production of The VisitThe Donkey ShowCarrie the Musical and Crisis Resolution in the Middle East for the annual Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival. While at Studio, they assisted David Muse on Cock, Joanie Schultz on 2.5 Minute Ride, and Henry Godinez on George Brant’s new play Tender



Ali Jamali (Little Duende) (he/him/his) a New York-based artist with an interest in developing new works and devising immersive and site-specific pieces. He started working as a director and scenographer at Wesleyan University, where he double-majored in Theater and Mathematics. Since moving to New York in 2017, he has worked on numerous productions with companies such as Second Stage Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Dodger Theatricals, Maximum Entertainment Productions and Disney Theatrical Group. He also served as line producer and stage manager for Musical Theatre Factory’s 2017-2018 Developmental Residency Series. As a director, he has presented work at 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, The Drama League, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Madison Arts Barn, Midtown International Theatre Festival, New York Theater Festival, The Plaxall Gallery, The Tank and Wesleyan University, among others.





Kalina Ko (Māyā) (she/her) is a Cantonese-American theater director and dramaturg. She is interested in the radical connection and community building of storytelling. Select credits include directing Paige Conway’s Tag (drafted) and Sophie Poole’s Ethanol (NOMADS), assisting Will Detlefsen on T. Adamson’s The Straights (The JACK, Brooklyn), and script assisting Hansol Jung on Wolf Play (Soho Rep) and Amy Jo Jackson on Hatchetation (National Music Theater Conference). She is currently the artistic apprentice at Roundabout Theatre Company and has worked two summers in the literary department at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Kalina graduated recently from Barnard College (American Studies and Chemistry).




Annika Perez-Krikorian (AZUL) is a Latine director, actor & theatre artist from Seattle, Washington. She creates expansive, heart-first art focused on the intersections of tenderness & trauma, and how we sustain our humanity within that nexus. She is dedicated to protecting and uplifting all artists in theatrical spaces: whether that be through directing, casting, or intimacy work. Favorite directing credits include and we will eat your grief by Abraham Johnson, Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner and Next to Normal by Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey. Annika was the most recent Directing/Casting Apprentice at the Seattle Rep and is an alumnus of the National Theater Institute’s Advanced Directing program, where she was selected as a Miranda Family Fellow.



Emily Preis (Missing Peace) is a proud citizen of the Osage Nation as well as a New York City-based maker, performer and organizer who loves any opportunity to explore the incredible power of storytelling and community sharing. Since receiving her BFA from NYU Tisch’s Experimental Theatre Wing, she has collaborated with her advisor, Mauricio Salgado, to turn her thesis, Performance as an Act of Tribal Sovereignty, into a Theatre Studies course to be offered at NYU in the Spring of 2022. She has worked as an assistant to Iakowi:he’ne’ Oakes and alongside Ty Defoe, Tanis Parenteau and Ryan Opalanietet Pierce, to produce several Native plays as part of Carnegie Hall’s Voices of Hope festival. For her work as an actress, she was named one of the finalists for Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program’s inaugural Misty Upham Award for Young Native Actors. Emily is incredibly thankful to NAMT for this opportunity and hopes to continue to explore ways to build community and challenge harmful narratives through theater.



Tyrone L. Robinson (Private Gomer Jones) A snare drum roll. A cymbal CRASH! The hypnotic refrain vamps…A man’s voice: “In here, life is beautiful.” I was 10 when I first heard a Broadway musical soundtrack: Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. After an acting career – most recently on Broadway in Disney’s Frozen – I am delighted to now be directing at the regional theatre level. A trained musician, I read music, am a history buff and am passionate about collaboration. I love getting to work with everyone involved on a production. Recent Directing: Owen and Mzee (tour) for Vital Theatre Company in New York, resident director at Actor Screener Shoot in New York City and the short film Un{H}armed, which was an official selection of film festivals nationwide. Upcoming: This Bitter Earth by Harrison David Rivers at InterAct Theatre Company (Philadelphia), White Ally (reading) by Douglas Williams at Bristol Riverside Theatre (PA) and a remount of Owen and Mzee for Vital Theatre Company which will run in New York City and on tour (Spring 2022). Awards/Honors: Joseph Jefferson Award, ASCAP Frederick Loewe Award, Off-Broadway Alliance Award (nominee), Evelyn Russell Layton Award. Recent Writing Commissions: TheatreWorks USA, Children’s Theatre Charlotte, First Stage Milwaukee, and The Kennedy Center.  Currently training for IDC Consent Forward Artist Certification. M.F.A. Graduate Musical Theatre Writing NYU Tisch School of the Arts.


Yoonie Yun (Senior Class) is a theatre director, designer and administrator currently based in NYC. She was born and raised in South Korea, where she founded ‘Down-In theatre’ aiming at the transnational collective that welcomes and inspires creative works of diverse artists. The mission of ‘Down-In theatre’ is to explore our identities and share the stories by doing theatre together. Yoonie graduated with her M.A. degree in Theatre & Performance from the University at Buffalo, SUNY. As a thesis project, she presented “Directing in Cyberspace: August Strindberg’s Miss Julie” (Advisor Meredith Conti, 2021). As a director, Yoonie is devoted to providing supportive and encouraging collaboration space. And she hopes theatre practices and itself can be the outlet of many untold/unheard stories. Especially as an Asian artist, she aspires to amplify the stories which ‘genuinely’ represent the life and experience of AAPI people in this world. Yoonie’s selected works include: New musical Gretel and Hansel (Down-In theatre, Directing), New play The Back of the Moon (Down-in theatre, Directing), Literary Glory (Chelsea Rep LAB & The Acting Studio-NY, Directing), Miss Julie (University at Buffalo, Directing), Devised theatre Speak to us of… (Darryl Semira’s M.A. thesis project, University at Buffalo, Stage Management), and 2021 NAMT Directing Observership. Yoonie’s current interests focus on developing new works – especially she has a huge interest in the SF musical. As collaborating and interacting with diverse artists, she is currently building her body of work as a creative theatre practitioner.

2020 Festival


Karishma Bhagani (Cowboy Bob) is a director, producer, dramaturg and scholar. Born and bred in Mombasa, Kenya, Karishma has a keen interest in expanding the arts sector within East Africa. Her research interests include understanding the political, spiritual and mythological seeds of performance tradition around the African continent. Karishma is currently a fellow of the Georgetown Lab for Global Performance and Politics and serves as the associate artistic director of the Tebere Arts Foundation in Uganda and the associate producing director of the Nairobi Musical Theatre Initiative. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. 



J Travis Cooper (Obeah Opera) (They/Them) is a queer, black, theatre artist and director currently based in Norfolk, Virginia. They recently received a B.A. in Musical Theatre from James Madison University and have specific interests in choreography and movement in theatre. In the future, J Travis hopes to continue innovating and enriching the theatre community through body positivity and movement, and are currently studying the foundations of Intimacy Direction and Coordination with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, Inc.

Miranda Cornell (Lizard Boy) (she/her) is a mixed-race, Japanese American theater director and generative artist with a passion for telling stories that are unabashedly sincere, achingly human, and irrevocably alive. She has directed and developed work with the Roundabout Underground, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, The 24 Hour Plays, New Ohio/Ice Factory, Yale Summer Cabaret, Mercury Store, Shakespeare Academy at Stratford, Moxie Arts NY, the Asian American Arts Alliance, NYMF, and the Hunter MFA Playwrights Festival. As an associate and assistant, she has worked with directors such as Robert Icke, Danya Taymor, Chay Yew, Rachel Chavkin, and Michael Greif at theaters such as NYTW, Park Avenue Armory, The TEAM, The Outsiders (Pre-Broadway), and Dear Evan Hansen (Broadway/Tour). Miranda is the former Van Lier Fellow in Theater at A4, a current member of the Roundabout Directors Group, and an upcoming 2050 Artistic Fellow at NYTW. BA: Vassar College.

Tamanya Garza (Eastbound) is Latinx parent-artist, director and producer who has had the pleasure of working with: Wilma Theater, Philadelphia Theatre Company, InterAct Theatre Company, Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, Ursinus College, University of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Directors Gathering and many others. Tamanya recently directed Power Street Theatre’s Las Mujeres by Philadelphia playwright Erlina Ortiz. The production continues to spark vital conversations about the current tectonic shift in storytelling that is focused on empowering Latinx artists, and other communities who have been systematically marginalized, to share their own stories. In 2019, Tamanya directed the Barrymore Award-winning Cry It Out by Molly Smith Metzler with Simpatico Theatre, a play about the gutting and beautiful experience of new motherhood. Tamanya is grateful that Simpatico Theatre, Allison Heishman and Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) made space for this story. Tamanya has since become the PAAL Chief Rep of Philadelphia to help share the care and support she experienced during this production with her community. In the coming months, Tamanya is excited to be directing the new musical Miss You Like Hell at Theatre Horizon featuring book and lyrics by Quiara Alegría Hudes and music and lyrics by Erin McKeown. Tamanya is enjoying every minute of her NAMT observership and is thankful to Desdemona Chiang and the entire Eastbound team as well as the festival organizers whose inclusive vision created this opportunity for Tamanya and her fellow BIPOC artists.

zhiyi headshot2Zhiyi Vanna Han (The Consoling Mechanism) was born in China, Dalian. She is currently a New York-based director. Graduated from New York University Educational Theatre Program, Zhiyi’s directing credits include: At All Moments by Ruoxin Xu (B.O.N.D Online Theatre Festival), A Language of Their Own by Chay Yew (IATI Theatre); No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre (American Theatre of Actors); Chinglish by David Henry Hwang (Columbia University). She was also the resident director of Mamma Mia! Licensed Chinese production (Shanghai Culture Square). Zhiyi hopes to use theatre to raise empathy, increase cultural diversity, and bring positive changes to the world.

Emmanuel Kikoni (Co-Founders) is a performer and creator from Dumfries, VA. He was born in Clarksburg, WV and as he grew up, he became more interested in the arts. Currently a senior Musical Theatre major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA, he aspires to be a part of the Theatre and Film/TV industries after graduation. His early efforts as a director include the JMU Reading Workshop Reading of the musical Venice in 2019, as well as the self-created web series, Everything Emmanuel in 2018. His past performance credits include Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray, a Dancer in the Grand Carnivale at Kings Dominion and Dancing with the Stars of the ‘Burg in Harrisonburg, VA, and an ensemble member in Side Show and Into the Woods.\

Lamar Perry (Hart Island) (He/Him/His) is a Queer Black artist/activist who currently serves as the Artistic Associate at Tony Award-winning theater The Old Globe, having formerly served as the Producing Associate at The Classical Theatre of Harlem. He is a 2020-2021 Roundabout Directors Group member. Most recently he’s directed the audio plays The Family Sound and Bunch Bowl Spaces for The Blindspot Collective/La Jolla Playhouse’s Walk of Life series. Selected Directing: Not Another Sidney Poitier (Diversionary Theatre/ Spark Festival), Watch Me (UCSD/Wagner’s New Play Festival), For MFA’s Who’ve Said Love When the Distance was Too Much (UCSD MFA). Assistant Directing: Hot Wing King (Signature Theatre) Detroit 67 (Chautauqua), Actually (San Diego Repertory Theatre), Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2, 3 (Juilliard), A Raisin in the Sun (St. John’s University). Perry was recently featured American Theatre Magazine’s “Roll Call: People to Know” as well as Forbes and is an alum of the Schusterman Foundations REALITY Storytellers program (’19). He holds a Bachelors of Science from St. John’s University and is an alum of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Leah Vicencio (On This Side of the World) is a Filipino-American director, producer, dramaturg and administrator. She aspires to uplift and amplify stories and artists that truly represent the human experience in all of its forms and cultivate community through theater. She was a part of The 24 Hour Plays: Nationals 2019 cohort and past credits include: Dying City (Director), Columbinus (Director), Coherence (Asst. Director), and …And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi (Dramaturg). She is also the managing director and head of marketing for The Broadway Sinfonietta and is graduating the University of Florida this spring.




2019 FestivaL

Britt Berke (Teeth) is an NYC-based director & theatre developer. Selected work: Round Room (Origin Theatre 1st Irish Festival; Best Director Nomination), Pancake Day and Something Sexy is Happening in Eden (November Theatre), Are You Still? (Playdate virtual festival/fundraiser), Liberian Girl in Brooklyn (Mabou Mines SUITE/Space) and Promenade in Concert (The Public’s “The Rest I Make Up” Marathon). She is the Co-Founder of November Theatre (a transatlantic collective that tells stories of love and identity) and the Associate Artistic Director of Torn Out Theater (the Naked Shakespeare company). Britt is an alumna of the MTC Directing Fellowship, 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, and the NAMT and SDC Observerships. BA, Barnard College.

Rachel Dilliplane (Hi, My Name is Ben) is a theatre artist and administrator devoted to the cultivation of new works. As the Artistic Assistant for Virginia Repertory Theatre, she pioneered the infrastructure of their New Plays initiative which has supported workshops and productions of Lempicka, Atlantis: A New Musical, In My Chair, and others. She also served as the Associate Director for River Ditty (world premiere) as well as several staged readings of The Consoling Mechanism (included in the 33rd Festival) also fostered through VARep New Plays. She is currently based out of Philadelphia, working fulltime as a voiceover artist.



Ryan Dobrin (Interstate) (he/him) is a queer, biracial New York-based director and producer interested in the exploration of emotional growth, spectacle, otherness, human connection, and morality. He is one of the Producing Artistic Leaders of The Movement Theatre Company, an Embodying Antiracism Initiative guest artist fellow at Wesleyan University, a member of the 2020-2022 Roundabout Directors Group, and the director of Those Guilty Creatures. Previous fellowships include The Drama League, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Ars Nova. Ryan has been an associate/assistant for directors including Tony Award-winners Sam Gold, Billy Porter, and Christopher Ashley as well as Trip Cullman, Tyne Rafaeli, and Margot Bordelon. Recent directing includes productions and development with Victory Gardens Theater, The Drama League, Fordham University, Atlantic Acting School, Clubbed Thumb, Ensemble Studio Theatre, NYU’s Experimental Theatre Wing, Shakespeare Academy at Stratford, A4, Playdate Theatre, Ars Nova, and Waterwell. Upcoming projects include: his short film The Homiesexuals: a social media tragedy by Gage Tarlton, Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow by Halley Feiffer at the University of Michigan, and associate director to Maria Friedman on Merrily We Roll Along starring Daniel Radcliffe at New York Theatre Workshop. Ryan graduated from Wesleyan University, where he received the Rachel Henderson Theater Prize and the Outreach & Community Service Prize in Theater.

Kemar Jewel (Simon & Jorge Pay Their Student Loans) is an Afro-Queer Director and Choreographer from Jamaica. Raised in Philadelphia, this Drama League Directing alum has done everything from touring around Europe performing, working with recording artists and becoming a viral internet sensation with over 7 million views on YouTube. As a member of the Legendary House of Lanvin, Kemar draws a lot of inspiration and technique from the Ballroom scene and infuses it with his formal training from Temple University. Kemar’s mission is to showcase the magic of queer & trans people of color through theatre, music and dance.

Dominique Rider (Iron John: An American Ghost Story) is a director and dramaturg based in Brooklyn, New York. They believe in l[i/o]ving like it is the end of the world. Dominique’s work is concerned with answering the question: “What is a world unmade by slavery?” They have worked as a director and collaborator at The New Group, Audible, BRIClab, NYU, Harlem9, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Haiti Cultural Exchange, MCC, The Old Globe, The Lark, Soho Rep, The Atlantic, The Bushwick Starr, Clubbed Thumb, Long Wharf, Flux Theatre Ensemble, WP and The Movement Theatre Company. They are the Director in Residence for the National Black Theatre through 2021, a 2021 BRIClab Resident Artist, a 2019 NAMT Directing Observer and an inaugural member of Roundabout Theatre Company’s Directing Group.

Sarah Jane Schostack (Lautrec at the St. James) International Director/Actor/Producer/Educator specializing in new musicals, plays and movement-based theatre. Current MFA Theatre Directing Candidate at Birkbeck, University of London with a graduation date of 2022. Select NYC directing credits: What I Left Behind (World Premiere, Hudson Guild Winterfest Best Short Play), Manere Fortis (World Premiere, Take Ten Festival Semi-Finalist), No Stranger There (World Premiere, 2014 Samuel French Finalist), Paid Off (5th Floor Theatre). Select international/regional directing credits Urinetown (Lost Nation Theater, Winner Broadway World Regional Awards), Spring Awakening(John W. Engeman Theatre), Singin’ in the Rain (Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre, Hong Kong), The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood (New London Barn Playhouse), James and the Giant Peach (Barrington Stage Company). Select associate/assistant credits: Taylor Mac’s The Fre (World Premiere, The Flea Theatre, Dir. Niegel Smith), Lincoln Center Originals: CRY HAVOC (Lincoln Center), There is a Field (National Tour), The Stone Will Roll (New York Theatre Workshop, Dir. Reg Douglas), Trip to Bountiful (Hangar Theatre), 2011 Tony Awards Company production number starring Neil Patrick Harris (Dir. Lonny Price, Assoc Dir. Matt Cowart) and three seasons with NewArts Newtown Musicals with Michael Unger and the Newtown, CT community in the wake of the Sandy Hook School Shooting. SDCF Observer to Peter Flynn and the City Theatre for Smart Blonde. SDC Associate Member. NAMT Directing Observer 2019 to Sarna Lapine and Lautrec at the St. James. Other resumes and credits available upon request.

Ricardo Vazquez (SeaWife) is an award-winning actor and multi-disciplinary theater creator most recently seen in the Broadway production of The Inheritance. As an actor, he has worked in New York with New York Stage and Film, Atlantic Theater Company, HERE Center for the Arts, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Mass MOCA Museum and Dixon Place, and has appeared regionally on stages including the Guthrie Theatre, Children’s Theatre Company, Mixed Blood Theatre, Teatro del Pueblo and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He has appeared in feature films such as Nina of the Woods, Farmer of the Year, The Public Domain, Death to Prom, Telephone and Gets Good Light. Television credits include ABC’s In an Instant and M@dabout TV. In collaboration with Tony Award winner Robert Rosen, he has created two solo pieces that celebrate the history of Puerto Rico: Juracán: The Jíbaro and his Three Sons and Escúchame. Directing credits include Transmission in Advance of the Second Great Dying (The Juilliard School) Marisol (Theatre Coup d’Etat) and Zero-Infinity Flight Path (Augsburg College). Through his production company Other Tiger Productions (co-founded with playwright Jessica Huang), he has co-created, produced and directed new work such as The Palabras Project, which celebrated the work of Federico Gracía Lorca; My Journey, My Music with the St. Paul Chamber orchestra; and Over The Barrel: A Prohibition Musical with PlaceBase Productions. He is a Playwrights’ Center Jerome Many Voices Fellow; a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grantee and received the coveted Twin Cities IVEY Award for Emerging Artist in 2013. 

2018 Festival

Lindsy Bissonnette (The River Is Me) (she/her/hers) is a freelance artist in NYC and enjoys directing new ensemble works, parody digital shorts, improv and sketch comedy. NAMT Observership class 2018; SDC Foundation Observership Class 2017-2018.

Alani iLongwe (Gun & Powder) Dedicated to illuminating the human experience through innovative storytelling, Alani first began directing with Chris Gabo’s Meat Puppeta streamed theatrical production aimed at raising money for the philanthropic group, Unusual Suspects, which “mentors, educates and enriches underserved youth.”  In 2018, he was a member of the inaugural class of NAMT’s Festival Observership for Early Career Directors. Since then, his immersive musical At The River I Stand was invited to the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed and later received a development workshop at TheatreWorks Hartford. Most recently, Alani directed and adapted a virtual production of Antigone with a talented group of second-year NYU students studying at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute. Next up, Alani will be directing a genre-bending VR production of At The River I Stand, choreographed by Tamica Washington-Miller and featuring dancers from the famed Lula Washington Dance Theater. Following that production, he is slated to direct virtual workshop productions of Too Grey Too Loud, an electric new play by Somebody Jones, and the provocative Locusts by Chris Gabo for Los Angeles’ Open City Theater. Alani is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, a Ron Howard Fellowship recipient, and a graduate of the prestigious Maggie Flanigan Studio. When not directing, he serves as co-creative director of Open City Acting Studio and co-artistic director of Open City Theater. 

Leo Chang (17 Again) is a bilingual performer, educator and director born and raised in Taiwan, where he co-founded an award-winning A Cappella Band-Guess What. Upon earning his M.F.A. degree in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University, Leo took the faithful leap. He moved to NYC and soon made his Off-Broadway debut in Revelation: The Musical. Leo is currently on faculty at Marymount Manhattan College and serving as a teaching artist at New York City Center. He also serves on the committee of Representation, Equity and Inclusion at Musical Theatre Educators’ Alliance (MTEA) and is committed to being a strong advocate for International and BIPOC artists. Chang has also taught at La Jolla Playhouse, International Thespian Festival, San Diego State University, National Taiwan University and Grossmont College.
As a director, Leo strives to provide a supportive and collaborative rehearsal process. His multicultural background and his use of movement in his staging create dynamic and inventive storytelling. His selected directing/choreography credits include Edges, Lucky 88: The Musical (Reading), Same Time, Next Year, Company (Fight Choreographer), My Way Home and Pillowman (Assistant Director).

Amanda Connors (Row) makes theatre focused on ensemble, physicality and simplicity. She collaborates with writers to create new works—both plays and musicals—and has been a part of the new work development process at NAMT as well as the O’Neill Theater Center. Select directing credits include the Argyle Theatre, Theatre Row, NAMT, Pace University, MTF and assisting at Second Stage, Signature (Arlington), the Guthrie, the O’Neill and Cal Shakes. She was in the Manhattan Theatre Club Directing Fellowship program, a recipient of the SDCF Directing Observership and is an alumna of Directors Lab North and Directors Lab West. Training includes certifications with the SAFD (unarmed, smallsword, sword and shield, quarterstaff, rapier and dagger, knife, and broadsword), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (degrees in theatre and journalism) and the National Theater Institute at the O’Neill.

Carsen Joenk (Monstersongs) is a director, designer and Brooklyn-based Chicagoan. She primarily uses non-hierarchical methods of collaboration to create accessible, equitable, ensemble-driven, devised work that questions American history and morality. A staunch supporter of trash, glitter and dance-pop, Carsen embraces stylized theatricality as a means of entertainment, conversation and dissidence. She is the co-artistic director of Rat Queen Theatre Company, a resident artist with New Light Theater Project, a 2020-2021 Roundabout Emerging Directors Group member, a FAIR 2020 directing assistantship recipient with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a member of the 2019-2021 SDCF Observership Class. Carsen was the 19/20 Wingspace Theatrical Design directing mentee, a National Alliance of Musical Theatre 2018 Directing Observer and a 2018-2019 resident artist at Access Theatre with Rat Queen. She has made work, assisted and interned with the New Ohio, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Dixon Place, La MaMa ETC, New York Theatre Workshop, Juilliard, Soho Rep, the LARK and more.

Rhonda Kohl (The Wicker Husband) was the NAMT directing observer on The Wicker Husband in the 30th Annual Festival of New Musicals. She recently was the theatrical coordinator/choreographer for the CW show Legacies. Prior, she directed and choreographed the West Coast premiere of Gina Femia’s For the Love Of (or, the roller derby play), an all-female roller derby “dance-ical” which was remounted at the Kirk Douglas Theatre as a part of Center Theatre Group’s Block Party in 2019.
In 2016, she served as the SDCF Traube Directing Fellow on the Broadway debut of In Transit at Circle in the Square with Kathleen Marshall, and worked again with Mrs. Marshall on Mamma Mia at the Hollywood BowI, The Roundabout Theatre Company’s benefit reading of Damn Yankees and was Ms. Marshall’s Associate on Reprise 2.0’s Sweet Charity starring Laura Bell Bundy.
Previously, she directed the LA Times Critic’s Choice production of Mark Brown’s Around the World in 80 Days, as well as the U.S. Premiere of the Wigmore and Green musical The Bachelor Girls and a developmental workshop of the same at the Trinity Laban Conservatory in London. She also was the movement director/choreographer for the California premiere of Nick Dear’s Frankenstein at A Noise Within and Karen Zacharias’ Native Gardens at Pasadena Playhouse.
She has a passion for new works and has helped develop and premiere new plays and musicals at several festivals, including Mach 33, Skylight Theatre’s Fresh Brew Series, SheNYC Arts and the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Additionally, she has assisted, and associate directed for theatres such as Geffen Playhouse (Barbecue and Long Day’s Journey into Night starring Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek) and Pasadena Playhouse (Ragtime, Native Gardens, King Charles III, Pirates of Penzance, and Tiny Beautiful Things) working with artists such as David Lee, Mark Esposito, Jason Alexander, Moritz von Stuelpnagel, Colman Domingo, Sherri Eden Barber, Michael Michetti and others. She is a proud member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and represented by KMR Talent.

Nicky Maggio (XY) “N” is a director and curator whose passions intersect in intimate narratives, bold new works and broad representations of queer identities. N has directed, assisted, and workshopped works at IRT Theatre, National Queer Theatre, Cherry Lane, Pipeline Theatre Company, The Drama League, The Wilma Theatre, The Public, The Lark, Boston’s Lyric Stage Company, Arts Emerson/Emerson Stage, Teatro LATEA and ItalyTime. Most recently, N directed JHANJAR DI PAANWAN CHHANKAR at NQT’s Criminal Queerness Festival partnered with World Pride 2019, featured in New York Times’s Pride Month’s Theatre To See! N has been a member of SDCF observership class, a finalist for the Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab (with Nikhil Mahapatra), and a member of the 2018 National Alliance of Musical Theatre inaugural directing observership class. N currently resides in Brooklyn. BFA Emerson College, MFA The New School. Instagram: @nickymaggio

Tai Thompson (A.D. 16)

This page was last updated on 03/22/2024